A Taste of Challah

May 9, 2009

6 min read


A new comprehensive guide to challah and bread baking

More than just another cookbook, A Taste of Challah is a guide, containing within it everything the home baker needs to know about the topic of Challah and bread baking.

Clear instructions, step-by-step, and more than 350 full-color photographs make mastering each recipe easy. In addition to Challah recipes and information, many recipes for various other breads from around the world.

A Taste Of Challah is a gorgeous book which is bound to become a regular gift and trusted kitchen companion.

Half Whole Wheat Challah

9 cups stone ground whole wheat flour
11 cups sifted white flour
1 & 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 & 1/2 T. salt
1 & 1/4 cups canola oil
6-7 cups warm water
3.5 oz. fresh yeast / 100 grams

Place the oil, 2 cups of warm water, sugar and salt into the mixing bowl. Add 5 cups of each kind of flour to this and stir a bit.

In another small bowl, put the yeast together with 2 T. of sugar, and add 1 1/2 cups of warm water.

Cover the bowl and allow the mixture to start activating. When it is bubbling and foamy, add it to the mixing bowl and start to mix the dough.

Add in another 3 cups of flour, either kind, and another cup of water. Mix and then turn off the mixer and allow the dough to start to rise for 10 minutes.

Mix again and add all the rest of the ingredients slowly, one cup at a time, until you reach a smooth, non-sticky consistency of dough. If the dough sticks too much to the sides of the bowl, add in a bit more oil.

After the dough is thoroughly prepared, grease a large (it will rise a lot) bowl with a fine layer of oil. Turn out the dough into this bowl and turn several times so that the dough will be greased lightly on all sides.

Cover the bowl with a large plastic garbage bag and allow it to rise for one hour before punching down and shaping.

Alternatively, place the unrisen dough in the large garbage bag, with all the air taken out and knotted on top of the bag, and placed in the fridge overnight to be shaped early the next morning.

This dough will shape and handle the same way the pure white one did and comes out delicious when it is baked. It is an especially tasty treat when cut into slices, toasted, and then served spread with a bit of butter and sprinkled with some cinnamon and sugar on top.

Onion Bagel Strips

This recipe was donated to me by Bentzion Goldstein of Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel.

Makes four medium 'strips' or six small ones.

1 cup warm water
21/2 tsp. dry yeast
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt plus another 1/2 tsp. for sprinkling later on
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup matzo meal OR an additional 1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. granulated garlic

In the mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Add the sugar. Add 2 cups of flour and 1 tsp. salt and start to mix it together. Pour in bits of the matzo meal and small amounts of the rest of the 1/2 cup of flour until the dough is stiff, but not hard.

Place the dough on a lightly floured board or counter and knead for five minutes. Grease a large plastic bowl and turn the dough into the bowl, then turn it over once so that all sides of the dough will be lightly greased. Cover the dough with plastic and allow it to rise until double in size, about 1 hour.

Punch down the dough several times and let it rest for five minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C.

In the meantime, dice the onion and take out the olive oil. Cut the dough into three or four even pieces and roll them out to resemble fat logs. Brush the tops of these logs with the olive oil. Sprinkle each generously with the diced onion and press the onions down gently into the dough with your fingertips. Sprinkle the tops of the logs with the rest of the salt, paprika, and garlic.

Bake until the bagel strips are light golden brown and crispy on top and bottom. Serve straight out of the oven.

TIP: You can add guacamole seasoning mix to the tops of your bagel strips as well for a really interesting and different flavor.

Soft Pretzels

(makes approximately 25-30 medium sized pretzels)

2 cups warm water
40 grams / 1.5 oz. fresh yeast granules
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup soft margarine or shortening
1 egg
6 1/2 - 7 1/2 cups flour

Glaze for pretzels: 1 additional egg yolk + 2 T. water Coarse salt

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Pour this into a bowl and add the sugar, salt, margarine, egg, and 3 cups of flour. Mix until smooth.

Keep adding flour and mixing until the dough is a smooth and somewhat stiff consistency. Cover the bowl well and leave in refrigerator to rise for 2 hours or overnight.

Divide the dough into four sections. Each section should make 6 smaller portions of dough. Roll out each small portion into logs and shape into pretzel shapes. (see pic). Leave them to rise, covered loosely with plastic, until double in size, about 25 minutes. Mix the egg yolk and 2 T. water together. Brush this glaze over each pretzel with a soft bristled pastry brush. Sprinkle pretzels with coarse salt or sesame seeds and bake at 400 F / 200 C for 15 minutes, until golden brown and crispy on top.

These pretzels are a fun and special treat and can be frozen after baked if necessary.

Additional ideas: For cheese pretzels, roll out each portion of dough as you would for challah. Sprinkle each one with grated parmesan or mozzarella cheese and roll up. Continue as directed above by twisting these rolls into pretzel shapes and bake as directed.

For whole wheat pretzels:Substitute light brown sugar for the white sugar. Use 4 cups whole wheat flour, 2 1/2 -3 1/2 cups white. Continue with rest of recipe as directed above. Pretzels featured in these pictures are whole wheat ones. (my idea: serve them with dips nearby and/or a bowl of soup)

The above recipes were taken from the new cookbook, A Taste of Challah by Tamar Ansh. It is a photographic guide to baking and shaping challahs, and includes many other healthy and interesting bread types. Visit www.TasteofChallah.com to see the interactive book online.

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